Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Osama bin Laden had 4 children, 5 safe houses, says a wife

In ANYTHING on March 30, 2012 at 8:29 am

Osama bin Laden spent nine years on the run in Pakistan after the September 11 attacks, during which time he moved among five safe houses and fathered four children, at least two of whom were born in a government hospital, his youngest wife has told Pakistani investigators. Osama bin Laden’s three widows are under house arrest in Islamabad, and they and two children face prosecution. The testimony of Amal Ahmad Abdul Fateh, bin Laden’s 30-year-old wife, offers the most detailed account yet of life on the run for the bin Laden family in the years preceding the American commando raid in May 2011 that killed the leader of al-Qaida at the age of 54. Her account is contained in a police report dated Jan. 19 that, as an account of that frantic period, contains manifest flaws: Ms. Fateh’s words are paraphrased by a police officer, and there is noticeably little detail about the Pakistanis who helped her husband evade his American pursuers. Nevertheless, it raises more questions about how the world’s most wanted man managed to shunt his family between cities that span the breadth of Pakistan, apparently undetected and unmolested by the otherwise formidable security services. Bin Laden’s three widows are of great interest because they hold the answers to some of the questions that frustrated Western intelligence in the years after 2001. They are currently under house arrest in Islamabad, and their lawyer says he expects them and two adult children – bin Laden’s daughters Maryam, 21, and Sumaya, 20 – to be charged on Monday with breaking Pakistani immigration laws, which carries a possible five-year jail sentence. The wives have cooperated with the authorities to varying degrees. Investigators say the older women, named in court documents as Kharia Hussain Sabir and Siham Sharif, both citizens of Saudi Arabia, have largely refused to cooperate with investigators. However, Ms. Fateh, who was wounded in the raid that killed her husband, has spoken out. The report, by a joint investigative panel made up of civilian and military officials, was first noted by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn on Thursday; The  New York Times later obtained a copy of the filing. In Washington,  United States officials said that while they could not confirm every detail of the report, it appeared generally consistent with what is known and believed about bin Laden’s movements. In the report’s account, Ms. Fateh said she agreed to marry bin Laden in 2000 because “she had a desire of marrying a mujahid.” She flew into  Karachi in July that year and, months later, crossed into  Afghanistan to join bin Laden and two other wives at his base on a farm outside Kandahar. The Sept. 11 attacks caused the bin Laden family to “scatter,” the report said. She returned to Karachi with her newborn daughter, Safia, where they stayed for about nine months. They changed houses up to seven times under arrangements brokered by “some Pakistani family” and Osama bin Laden’s elder son, Saad. Other senior Qaida figures were also in Karachi, a sprawling city of up to 18 million people.  Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, claims to have personally killed the  Wall Street Journal reporter  Daniel Pearl there during this period; he was captured at a house in Rawalpindi in March 2003. Ms Fateh said she left Karachi in the second half of 2002 for  Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where she was reunited with her husband. The American pursuit of bin Laden was running high: Qaida operatives had attacked an Israeli-owned hotel in  Kenya and nightclubs in  Indonesia, and with  C.I.A. intelligence resources not yet diverted to  Iraq, the search was firmly focused on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area. Bin Laden, according to his wife, took his family deep into rural mountain areas of northwest Pakistan – but not, notably, into the tribal belt where much Western attention was focused. First they stayed in the Shangla district in Swat, a picturesque area about 80 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad, where they stayed in two different houses for eight to nine months. Then in 2003 they moved to Haripur, a small town even closer to Islamabad, where they stayed in a rented house for two years. Here, Ms. Fateh gave birth to a girl, Aasia, in 2003 and a boy, Ibrahim, in 2004 – both of whom were delivered in a local government hospital. The police report states that Ms. Fateh “stayed in hospital for a very short time of about 2-3 hours” on each occasion. A separate document states that she gave fake identity papers to hospital staff. Finally, in mid-2005, according to Ms. Fateh, Osama bin Laden and his family moved to Abbottabad, 20 miles east of Haripur, where she gave birth to another two children: Zainab in 2006 and Hussain in 2008. Mr Fateh told investigators that the houses in Swat, Haripur and Abbottabad were organized by their Pashtun hosts, identified as two brothers named Ibrahim and Abrar, whose families stayed with them throughout. Ibrahim is believed to refer to Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, a Pakistani-born Pashtun who grew up in  Kuwait and who was known for a time to American intelligence as “the courier,” because he carried the Qaida leader’s messages. When Navy SEAL commandos stormed the Abbottabad house last May, they killed bin Laden and shot Ms. Fateh, who was in the same room, in the leg. She survived but four others were killed in the raid: the courier, his wife Bushra, his brother, Abrar, and bin Laden’s 20-year-old son, Khalil. Bin Laden’s three wives are now confined to a rented house in Islamabad. On Tuesday, a cousin of Ms. Fateh’s in  Yemen claimed that she was being held in a basement. “She limps from a bullet wound in her knee, and she’s suffering from psychological trauma and very low blood pressure,” Hameed al-Sadeh told Reuters. Ms. Fateh’s account, if proven, suggests that American military forces came tantalizingly close to bin Laden in late 2005. In October of that year, a giant earthquake struck northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 73,000 people. For weeks afterward, American Chinook helicopters, diverted from Afghanistan and carrying relief supplies, passed overhead on their way into the quake zone. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military ruler,  Pervez Musharraf, then a close ally of the Bush administration, repeatedly asserted that bin Laden was sheltering across the border inside Afghanistan. The Pakistani decision to prosecute the three wives and two children goes against an earlier recommendation from the police that they be deported to  Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Pakistani analysts said that suggested that  Pakistani intelligence may have hidden reasons for detaining the family. “I think the government wants to hang on to them through a trial procedure so that the investigation can be completed,” said Riffat Hussain, a defense analyst. “And I think the Americans are quite keen to have access to Osama’s wives, too.”



©2011 The New York Times News Service


In Uncategorized on March 15, 2012 at 8:14 am

Outrage has been building in Morocco‘s online community over the case of a 16-year-old girl who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist.

According to the local press, Amina Filali died after taking rat poison on Saturday.

She had been married for the past five months to a man who raped her a year earlier.

The Moroccan penal code allows for a rapist to marry his victim to escape prosecution and preserve her family’s honour, according to traditional practice.

The victim’s father said in an interview with online Moroccan newspaper that the court pushed the marriage on her.

Activist Abadila Maaelaynine tweeted that Amina had been “triply violated”, first by her rapist, then by tradition and then by the Moroccan penal code.

WAS IT SUICIDE? 3-year-old US boy kills himself with gun

In ANYTHING on March 15, 2012 at 8:12 am

A three-year-old boy fatally shot himself with a gun he found in a car while his family stopped at a petrol station in the western US state of Washington, police say.

It was the third recent shooting by a child in western Washington.

“It is incredible in light of the other ones,” said Naveed Benjamin, a police officer in Tacoma, where the shooting occurred. “You would think people would take more care, not less.”

The family had stopped for petrol about 12:30am (1530 AEDT). The father put his pistol under the seat and got out to pump petrol while the mother went inside the convenience store, Benjamin said.

They left their son and their infant daughter in the car. The boy climbed out of his child seat, found the gun and shot himself in the head, police said. He was declared dead at a hospital. The girl was not injured.

Detectives questioned the parents and have called the shooting a tragic accident, Benjamin said. The father has a concealed weapons permit, and no charges are anticipated, he said.

Washington state does not have a law specifically concerning child access to firearms.

The shooting follows the death of the seven-year-old daughter of a Marysville police officer in Stanwood on Saturday when a sibling found a gun and fired while the parents were out of their car. And on February 22, an eight-year-old girl was critically wounded in a Bremerton classroom when a gun fired inside the backpack of a nine-year-old boy as he put it on a desk.


In ESSAY on March 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm

“You could say Boko Haram is everywhere, or you could say it’s nowhere: both would be correct.”

This apparently confusing observation about the Nigerian militant Islamist group from one local expert is actually more helpful than it seems.

Responsible for a string of violent attacks in Nigeria that have killed some one thousand people over the last two years, Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has been bewildering and surprising to security specialists here. Ask some, and you will hear that the organisation is a threat to the very unity of Nigeria. Ask others, and you will hear that it is not an organisation at all.

And, yes, they are both right.

Unspinning the complex and contradictory web of Boko Haram reveals four key threads.

First, taking in the historical perspective, it is a fundamentalist revival in northern Nigeria. Like other such movements, it rejects modern narratives and seeks to apply what it sees as traditional religious answers to all social questions. The term “Boko Haram” does not adequately capture their thoughts on Western education: they are not against Western technology and technical learning, but they lament the perceived deterioration of morals unleashed by Western influence. In other words, it is fine to use a laptop to access the internet as long as you are reading what they see as acceptably wholesome things.

Second, it is a political movement, which is really called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad), not Boko Haram. This political side, apparently split into at least three factions, is not afraid to use violence to achieve its aims. Those goals are both long-term, like instituting their version of strict sharia law in Nigeria, and also more immediate, like pushing for the release of their members in prison.

Their grievances against the police are particularly deep-seated. Not only are many of their followers locked up, their leader, Mohammad Yusuf, was killed in police custody in 2009, and that, perhaps more than any other single event, drives the group — sometimes also known as the “Yusufiyah” — in its violent campaign, with police stations a frequent target.

Fears of connections to outside terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabab, should not be overblown. Islamic militancy and extremism in northern Nigeria have always had external connections and linkages, but this is predominantly a Nigerian phenomenon. A few members may have received training abroad, butit probably contains few if any foreign fighters. This sect has a well-developed domestic bomb-making capability now, as the frequency of deadly explosions and the discovery of bomb factories demonstrate. And despite allegations of arms streaming south from post-Qaddafi Libya, adherents are able to source small arms from corrupt security services with relative ease.

Third, “Boko Haram” is an ideology providing inspiration to some Nigerians living in grinding poverty under a set of rulers who concern themselves not with running the country but with simply stealing the country’s oil wealth. It passes no Nigerian’s notice that decades of official plunder have left what should be a thriving — or at least developing — nation in a pitiful state of neglect. Illiteracy stands at 40 per cent, and poverty is rising, with 100 million people, or 61 per cent of the population, now living in absolute poverty on less than $1 a day. Despite petroleum’s billions, citizens have to cover all their basic services themselves: health, education and security.

Like other political and armed movements that have sprung up in this country, including the recent fuel subsidy protests that brought the country to a standstill, Boko Haram is just a symptom of the crumbling Nigerian state. Of course, despite their daily trials, the vast majority of Nigerians do not turn to armed militancy, of the Islamist variety or any other, but the fact that a small and very deadly portion do is a clear sign of the country’s basic underlying dysfunction.

Finally, “Boko Haram” is also a cover for criminal activity and political thuggery of all sorts. Anything that turns violent can be blamed on the Islamist movement, whether it has a link to it or not. It is a perfect alibi, one that prevents further questioning. Bank robbery? Boko Haram. Attack on political opponents? Boko Haram.

As such, the name is ceasing to have any meaning at all: Boko Haram is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The hype in much of the Nigerian media also contributes to the problem, as many media outlets chasing sales seem all too willing to fall for unsubstantiated rumour and outright lies proffered by political trouble-makers — or by nobody at all. Of course, some international media reporting has also been more scare-mongering than substance, presenting this as a new terrorist threat to the West, when it is fundamentally a Nigerian issue.

The Boko Haram phenomenon, in all its threads, has captured the imagination of the entire nation, filling newspaper pages and air time with fear and misinformation that reaffirms everyone’s core understanding of their deeply dysfunctional state: Nigeria is broken and headed toward the brink.

It is hard to imagine a state that is so much a part of the problem effectively dealing with it. Still, the dozens of security experts, academics and journalists I met with all agreed on the basic elements to address the four interlocking parts of the Boko Haram phenomenon.

The criminal side of everything claiming to be, or claimed to be, Boko Haram needs to be handled as criminal cases. This requires a non-rapacious police force and independent judiciary. Every aspect of the police needs reforming: recruitment, training and management. With the reputation of the police at rock bottom, even practical intelligence gathering within the community is extremely difficult in the absence of trust.

Other internal intelligence agencies have competent hands, apparently doing their job professionally, but they are routinely undermined by undue political interference and rampant politicisation of their data. Added to that, information sharing between security agencies seems to be limited at best, and many suspect that intelligence is often withheld or fabricated to boost agencies’ claims for greater slice of the budgetary pie.

All that would be a huge set of tasks for Nigeria to overcome in its current condition. It may seem unlikely enough, but sadly, it is hardly all that is required.

To counter the recruiting potential of violent movements in Nigeria, not only Boko Haram, the country has got to address rampant corruption and pour the oil wealth into government services rather than officials’ overseas bank accounts. Otherwise, the very word “state” will have no meaning at all, and people will continue to seek other solutions to help organise their society and support their lives, with some using violence to achieve those aims.

The idea that Nigeria, failing its people on so many fronts and with too many looters posing as leaders, could achieve all this seems almost fanciful. The far more likely scenario is continued deterioration on all fronts and a disastrous military-first approach to the insurgency that only drives more young men to grab a gun or build a bomb.

Still, as impossible to achieve as a comprehensive good governance solution may seem, it is also by common consent here the only thing likely to work. If there is any optimism in this generally dismal picture, it is exactly this: a clearly growing consciousness that the current situation is not sustainable and that Nigeria needs some stiff medicine to address not only the symptoms of the disease like Boko Haram, but the disease of state failure itself.

Andrew Stroehlein is Communications Director of the International Crisis Group,


In ESSAY on March 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm
An estimated 50,000 Ghanaians are blind from Glaucoma and 600,000 others suffering from the debilitating eye disease which causes blindness.

Another 250,000 people who did not know they have the disease were likely to go blind if it was left untreated.

This was disclosed by Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch of this year’s World Glaucoma Awareness Week organised by the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG) in collaboration with other stakeholders.

The World Glaucoma Day falls on March 12, each year and the theme for 2012 is “Do Not Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life”.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye becomes too high, causing damage to the optic nerve. If left untreated, vision around the edge of the eye becomes increasingly restricted, narrowing the field of vision, eventually, total blindness can occur.

However, if detected early enough, the damaging effects of the disease could be treated with various drugs.

Laser or conventional surgery can often relieve pressure and prevent further sight loss.

Mr Mettle-Nunoo said the Ministry provided GH¢10,000 every year to strengthen Glaucoma awareness creation, adding that the fund would be increased when the Ministry’s resources increased in future.

He said the Ministry would consider request of the association for inclusion of more anti-Glaucoma drugs on the National Health Insurance Drug List, reduce duties on drugs and also provide the association with a two room permanent office facility to enable it increase its advocacy activities and awareness creation to prevent blindness in Ghana.

Source: GNA


In ANYTHING on March 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

The recent announcement that Nigeria’s  most celebrated entertainer Don Jazzy,  chief executive of Mo’Hit records and his partner D’Banj, the number one musician on the label,  have parted ways, has left most Nigerians still reeling in shock.

Most people are yet to come to terms with the development as the broken down relationship many thought was made by the gods was untouchable. The situation, Vanguard  reports, remains the same and the story of the separation, real!.

As the Nigeria’s number one entertainment newspaper, Vanguard serves you only with the best stories and nothing more.

Now back to the story and why the celebrated entertainers parted ways.

*Dbanj & Don Jazzy

Their decision to part ways was something our source said was agreed upon by the two former pals.

It was taken long before the deal by D’Banj, Don Jazzy and Kanye West’s GOOD music was sealed.

The lack of a business structure in Mo’Hit records made the company the butt of a joke especially in the international business community. Everything seemed to revolve around D’Banj alone.

It was becoming increasingly difficult for both to continue as partners because Don Jazzy who  doubles as the label’s producer was having difficulties controlling D’Banj who was also a partner in the business.

Conflicts often arose in the house because of the seeming financial gap between D’Banj and other artistes on the label.

This grossly affected the business and also contributed to the duo relocating to the Island leaving the other artistes at their former abode in   Maryland, Lagos.

The situation between the two deepened to a point where other artistes on the label were made to look ordinary.

Often, Don Jazzy faced an uphill task convincing other Mo’Hit records sign-on like Wande Coal, Dr. Sid and The Prince that he (Don Jazzy) was as committed to their career as he was to D’Banj’s.

Several newspapers in the past had talked about the situation but the record company through their managers had often denied having conflicts in the house.

The recording of a promotion song for President Goodluck Jonathan by D’Banj, was the icing on the cake as Nigerians descended on the Mo’Hit crew and accusing them of a sell out.

During the protest against government decision to remove subsidy on petrol, Nigerians took to the internet, calling for the head of D’Banj.

Don Jazzy desperate to protect his record company, quickly disassociated it from a sell-out. He went as far as tweeting on the wall of his Twitter that he regretted ever associating with the President.

To crown it all, D’Banj was no where to be found when the heat was turned on his partners.

Don Jazzy has since moved out of the mansion they once shared in Lekki Phase 1 and he’s currently squatting with Dr Sid at 1004, the same estate that Wande Coal lives on Victoria Island.

As at the time of filing in our story, Don Jazzy may have finalised arrangement to unveil his own record label which sources say will be structured in a way no one musician will hold sway.

What happens to other Mo’Hit artistes will be revealed on these pages.

Stay with us. (culled from vanguard newspaper)

Nigeria: In The Grip Of Lassa Fever

In ESSAY on March 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus and first described in 1969 in the town of Lassa, in Borno State, Nigeria, in the Yedseram river valley at the south end of Lake Chad.Clinical cases of the disease had been known for over a decade but had not been connected with a viral pathogen. The infection is endemic in West African countries, and causes 300,000–500,000 cases annually, with approximately 5,000 deaths.

Outbreaks of the disease have been observed in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Central African Republic, but it is believed that human infections also exist in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and Senegal. The primary animal host of the Lassa virus is the Natal Multimammate Mouse (Mastomys natalensis), an animal indigenous to most of Sub-Saharan Africa. The virus is probably transmitted by contact with the feces or urine of animals accessing grain stores in residences.

In 80% of cases the disease is inapparent, but in the remaining 20% it takes a complicated course. It is estimated that the virus is responsible for about 5,000 deaths annually. The fever accounts for up to one third of deaths in hospitals within the affected regions and 10 to 16% of total cases.

After an incubation period of six to twenty-one days, an acute illness with multiorgan involvement develops. Non-specific symptoms include fever, facial swelling, and muscle fatigue, as well as conjunctivitis and mucosal bleeding. The other symptoms arising from the affected organs are:

Clinically, Lassa fever infections are difficult to distinguish from other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg, and from more common febrile illnesses such as malaria.

The virus is excreted in urine for three to nine weeks and in semen for three months.


There is a range of laboratory investigations that are performed to diagnose the disease and assess its course and complications. ELISA test for antigen and IgM antibodies gives 88% sensitivity and 90% specificity for the presence of the infection. Other laboratory findings in Lassa fever include lymphopenia (low white blood cell count), thrombocytopenia (low platelets), and elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels in the blood.


All persons suspected of Lassa fever infection should be admitted to isolation facilities and their body fluids and excreta properly disposed of.

Early and aggressive treatment using Ribavirin was pioneered by Joe McCormick in 1979. After extensive testing, it was determined that early administration is critical to success. Additionally, Ribavirin is almost twice as effective when given intravenously as when taken by mouth.

Ribavirin is a prodrug which appears to interfere with viral replication by inhibiting RNA-dependent nucleic acid synthesis, although the precise mechanism of action is disputed. The drug is relatively inexpensive, but the cost of the drug is still very high for many of those in poverty-stricken West African states. Fluid replacement, blood transfusion and fighting hypotension are usually required. Intravenous interferon therapy has also been used.

When Lassa fever infects pregnant women late in their third trimester, it is necessary to induce delivery for the mother to have a good chance of survival.

This is because the virus has an affinity for the placenta and other highly vascular tissues. The fetus has only a one in ten chance of survival no matter what course of action is taken; hence focus is always on saving the life of the mother. Following delivery, women should receive the same treatment as other Lassa fever patients.

Siga Technologies is developing an antiviral drug that has been shown effective in treating experimentally infected guinea pigs. In a study conducted at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), treatment with ST-193 once a day for 14 days resulted in significant reduction in mortality (71% of the animals survived at the low dose), whereas all untreated animals and those treated with ribavirin died within 20 days of the infection.

Samsung wins best smartphone

In ANYTHING on March 2, 2012 at 10:53 am

Round of applause for Samsung please… it’s just been named Device Manufacturer of the Year at the Global Mobile Awards. The Galaxy S II also walked away with “Best Smartphone”.

The awards took place in Spain during the recent Mobile World Congress and the winners are pretty much those you’d expect. Angry Birds Rio won best Mobile App for Consumers, Whatsapp received the Best Overall App award, Google Maps for Android was awarded Best Consumer Mobile Service and the iPad 2 won Best Mobile Tablet.

It seems only fitting that Samsung and their Galaxy S II should join the ranks – the company sold over 10 million units in the first 5 months after the phone was released, and more than 20 million in the first 10 months. In case you were wondering what happened to Apple’s smartphone, the iPhone 4 won the award last year.

“The GALAXY S II has set a new standard for smartphones, taking speed, screen and content to a whole new level,” said the President of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Communications Division, JK Shin.

“Building on the phenomenal success of the original Samsung GALAXY S, we are honoured by this award and proud of how this device has changed the way the market and consumers experience mobile technology.”

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